By Karen Daniels
Next Wednesday, June 27, Stafford will hold a public hearing on the pros and cons of passing a public smoking ban. Whether you are for cleaner air quality or against increased government involvement, residents and business owners are encouraged to attend and give your thoughts and concerns at 7:00 pm at the Stafford Civic Center.
When it comes to the public’s health there are obvious and blatant facts involved with smoking. Smoking causes cancer. Known carcinogens, such as formaldehyde, benzene and arsenic, are floating in the air after being expelled from the smoker’s lungs, possibly traveling to your lungs. Everyone knows this now. Law suits on second-hand smoke have won record amounts. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, only 10% of Fort Bend County residents smoke. “This means that 90% of the population do not smoke,” states Dr. Joel Dunnington. “Vast numbers of citizens do not wish to be exposed to others smoke and restaurant and bar owners flunked math.”
Each member of City Council has openly discussed the economic impact this ordinance might have on Stafford. However, data from American’s for Non-Smoker’s rights, which Dr. Dunnington is a board member of, state that “every legitimate economic study ever done has shown no negative impact, and in a few cases, studies have shown a positive impact. Only studies commissioned or supported by the tobacco industry have shown a negative impact.”
The council has stated that they are aware of a difference between restaurants (places families go to) and bars (places children are not allowed to go to) or licensed establishments that sell over 60% alcohol, indicating that if there is to be a smoking ban, they might stipulate the difference within the ordinance.
Mary Ann Dolezal with Tobacco Free Fort Bend had this to say, “Public health is everyone’s business. Smoke free workplaces save lives, reduce health care and worksite costs and promote a healthier community. Safe air is no more an option than safe water.”
Keep in mind, June 27 is only a hearing. City Council will be listening to your opinions on this night, but no vote will be taken. Mayor Scarcella stressed that there is a lot to consider. “Our job is to make the best decision for the health, safety and welfare, but also keep in mind the various positions of the people and businesses.”